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The Roundup for April 17th, 2014

By: Thursday April 17, 2014 4:53 pm

May Gabriel Garcia Marquez rest in peace.

International Politics

Overall

- The U.S., Russia, EU and Ukraine have produced a series of steps to take in order to reduce tensions in Ukraine; President Obama is not optimistic about it

- President Vladimir Putin: I hope I do not have to use force in eastern Ukraine if we become threatened

- An investigation into claims former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was behind the sniper shootings in Maidan has found Yanukovych was not behind it and it was actually the Svoboda Party and other protesters. I wonder how the West will spin this or even if their puppets in the media will cover it at all.

- The International Criminal Court will enter the Ukraine after being approved by the interim government to investigate the crackdown by Yanukovych

- Contrary to what Islamophobes and rabid neo-conservative atheists state, blasphemy against Islam is not something Muslims want prosecuted, but is rooted in colonism

- John Pilger: “NATO’s action plan in Ukraine is right out of Dr Strangelove

Middle East

- The State Department announced it has released $450 million in frozen assets to Iran after it found Iran was complying with a current interim international deal

- Rebels in Syria warned those in the international community the Syrian army may cause a massacre in Homs as they approach the town

- The Taliban killed four Afghan policemen in the Wardak province (south of the capital Kabul) after stopping their car

Asia and Oceania

- Gallup: 67 percent of Pakistanis said poverty in the country has increased versus eight percent who said it decreased

- In a disgusting fashion, Japanese elites (lawmakers, officials, etc.) protested the recent UN decision to bar the country from whale hunting by feasting on whale meat

- The survivors and families of victims of the ferry disaster yesterday in South Korea are angered by the captain and crew who abandoned passengers

- The UN Security Council recommends discovery of human rights abuses in North Korea be given to the International Criminal Court

Africa

- The elections in Algeria hold significance not only domestically, but also for the international arena (For one thing, the country has oil)

- After facing recent raids by the military junta, gays in Egypt fear they will be targeted by the government

- The UN said dozens of civilians hiding in an UN base were killed by armed youths

- Contrary to reports that 115 Nigeria schoolgirls were released, a school principal said they are still being held by Islamic gunmen

Europe

- The Labour Party in the UK hired David Axelrod, who worked with President Barack Obama on his 2008 campaign, for their 2015 campaign where inequality will be a main issue

- Russian state media criticized the AP for its coverage of Putin rather than covering something else more important

Latin America, Caribbean and Canada

- A new polling report found the three countries that trust the U.S. the least are Uruguay at 35.2 percent, Venezuela at 33 percent and Argentina at 31.4 percent

- In part six of nine, Venezuelan professor Edgardo Lander explains why moving beyond oil is essential for Venezuela and its future

Surveillance Planet

- The Turkish government decided, in response to the corruption surrounding the current administration, to expand its spy powers after parliament approved of the bill

- A researcher in Berlin was able to break the fingerprint check on Samsung phones

Financial Matters

- Gallup: 30 percent of Americans say real estate is the best long-term investment to make over gold, stocks, savings and bonds

- Nathan Schneider argues cryptocurrencies like bitcoin should not be exclusive to libertarian movements because it could bolster progressive movements

- Mark Weisbrot: “Piketty in Washington: How to Reverse the Increasing Concentration of Wealth

- Protesters gathered outside the headquarters of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to demand divestment from privatized prisons

- Tax season may over, but aren’t you curious where it is heading? For instance, for every dollar paid, 27 cents goes to the military, which gets the most funding from taxpayers.

- The maker of the Sriacha chili sauce threatened it will move out of California after recent actions by California officials

- In what is good news for Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley both reported earnings better than expected

- Boeing thanks Seattle for their tax breaks to the company and then ships jobs out of the city

- A government report found the IRS audits fewer than one percent of business partnerships (i.e. Wall Street hedge funds and private equity groups). Go democracy!

Labor’s a-Brewing

- In part one of two of this interview on The Real News, it is debated whether or not Johns Hopkins University is able to provide a living wage for its workers (Yes it can)

- Walmart workers are continually questioning why the Waltons, who own Walmart, get billions as they suffer with measly wages

- In Seattle, Wash., the fight for $15/hour has led to the elites there becoming worried as they pull out all the stops against the movement

- In what is indicative of reformist unionism, the AFL-CIO restricts radicals in unions in Colombia and threatens the livelihood of workers there

Politics US

Washington USA

- Gallup: Who do Americans trust when it comes to economics? 52 percent trust “business leaders” a “great deal/fair amount”

- The Koch Brothers’ assets grew to more than $100 billion. I am sure our democracy is in good hands especially considering the McCutcheon decision!

- President Obama: We have more than 8 million Americans who signed up with ACA so it is “working.

- The 9/11 military court trial will adjourn until June due to FBI efforts to spy on the defense

- A military judge at Guantanamo Bay ordered the CIA to turn over all documents relating to “Black Site” prisoners

- In a trial against an Egyptian imam who was alleged to help al-Qaeda in training, the U.S. says the imam wanted global terror

- The Congressional Budget Office reported Obama’s budget will produce higher deficits than what the White House says

- The U.S. government says its case against four Blackwater guards for slaughtering Iraqi civilians in 2007 is in jeopardy after a recent federal appeals court ruling

Anytown USA

- Field: 54 percent of California voters prefer low taxes and less government services compared to 36 percent who would be okay with higher taxes and more government services

- Here is good news. With a new board of directors for the San Francisco Pride Parade, Chelsea Manning will be an honorary Grand Marshall for this year’s Parade and Celebration (Side note: Last year the SF Pride board took away the honor)

- An unemployed, poor and single mother will still face child abuse charges in Arizona after leaving her kids in the car as she went for job interview and could not get childcare

- This article argues why Cliven Bundy is not a patriot who should be defended as he is just being used by the right against the federal government

We Don’t Need No Education

- In what is surely troubling, a new ProPublica piece found segregation still exists in schools across the U.S. despite efforts through the court system

- Michelle Obama: Getting a high school degree now is not enough to get a good job

Health, Hunger and Homelessness

- Good news as the CDC reported there has been a decline in diabetes-related complications in the past 20 years in the U.S.

- A phenomenal piece on the consequences of no government help when toxic substances threaten communities that have nothing

- Interesting piece on the New York Times failure to report effectively and accurately on the mental health of soldiers who come back from war

The Second Sex

- After it was discovered, a Republican in Texas will be closing his Super PAC called “Boats N’ Hoes

- After years of protests, Japan and South Korea will address the “comfort women” used in World War II for Japanese soldiers

- In California, around 250 female inmates were sterilized in prisons without state approval after doctors said they were paid by companies to do it

Planet Earth

- Portland, Oregon flushed 38 million gallons of drinking water after a 19-year-old was caught on camera urinating in the water reservoir

- A new report found minorities are 40 percent more likely to be affected by air pollution than whites

- The Coast Guard criticized BP for lying about completing the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

- Perhaps some good news on the environment, greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. are at a 20-year-low

- A new report by the UN found if Kenya decided to switch to a green economy it could bolster food security, become resource efficient, and have an economy generating $45 billion by 2030

- Great story on how a community in West Virginia was able to provide clean drinking water to residents when the government and other agencies failed

Mixed Bag

- “Newly Discovered Cave Paintings Suggest Early Man Was Battling A Lot Of Inner Demons

- Scientists in Brazil discovered a species of insect where the female has a penis and the male has a vagina

- Good news from NASA, they may have discovered an Earth-like planet with potential for extraterrestrial life

- Despite Stephen Colbert getting David Letterman’s spot on Late Night, there still needs to be more people of color on TV

Break Time

- Zelda’s Theme


Liking A Company On Facebook Could Surrender Your Right To Sue

By: Thursday April 17, 2014 11:42 am

General Mills logo.svg

Welcome to more fun in 21st century litigation. Food conglomerate General Mills has implemented some interesting rules regarding digital coupons and social media. If someone downloads a coupon or likes the company on Facebook they may be surrendering their right to sue, instead a consumer must enter arbitration if any disputes arises.

When contacted by the New York Times, General Mills affirmed the policy and suggested “buying its products would bind consumers to those terms.”

The change in legal terms, which occurred shortly after a judge refused to dismiss a case brought against the company by consumers in California, made General Mills one of the first, if not the first, major food companies to seek to impose what legal experts call “forced arbitration” on consumers.

If clicking something on Facebook or even just buying the product is enough to surrender the right to sue a company then what value are the civil courts?

But apparently it’s not just General Mills getting into the forced arbitration game.

A growing number of companies have adopted similar policies over the years, especially after a 2011 Supreme Court decision, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, that paved the way for businesses to bar consumers claiming fraud from joining together in a single arbitration. The decision allowed companies to forbid class-action lawsuits with the use of a standard-form contract requiring that disputes be resolved through the informal mechanism of one-on-one arbitration.

It’s almost like the Roberts Court is trying to help Big Business and plutocrats control the country without opposition.

Buyer beware has now extended to social networking, beware what you click. Of course then the question becomes what constitutes entering into one of these agreements. If liking on Facebook is enough what about merely visiting website?

Kiev’s Military Campaign In East Ukraine Collapses

By: Thursday April 17, 2014 5:30 am

Ukraine army's humiliations pile up as eastern push fizzles http://t.co/6W6dPHmZum via @YahooNews pic.twitter.com/HjH7TQDauP — Agence France-Presse (@AFP) April 17, 2014 The interim government in Kiev’s military operation against “terrorists” in East Ukraine has collapsed. Local people stopped the military convoy and disarmed the soldiers even taking their vehicles and parading them as trophies. The effort [...]

The Roundup for April 16th, 2014

By: Wednesday April 16, 2014 6:40 pm

Hey folks, how are you today? International Politics Overall – The Ukrainian government is losing its influence in the east as soldiers become “demoralized,” pro-Russian militants seizing vehicles and NATO is attempting to help bolster its presence near the Russian border. Here is a list of cities in eastern Ukraine where clashes have been reported. – The [...]

The Neocon Money Machine

By: Wednesday April 16, 2014 11:20 am

In 2003 writer Eli Lake declared that the neoconservatives were the “most influential wing in the current administration,” and that those empowered neoconservatives were chiefly responsible for the expedited time table to launch what would become the disastrous Iraq War. A war that would, among other things, bring Barack Obama to power as the American [...]

Top Ten At Ten 4/16/2014

By: Wednesday April 16, 2014 8:52 am

Some of the stories from today’s Top Ten At Ten. * Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Carriers Back Anti-Theft Measures for Smartphones (Recode) * Unsettling video shows large al Qaeda meeting in Yemen (CNN) * Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline bribed doctors to boost sales, says whistleblower (The Independent) * New York Drops Unit That Spied on [...]

Bloomberg Plans To Spend $50 Million To Fight NRA

By: Wednesday April 16, 2014 8:42 am

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to take on the National Rifle Association in his first post-office political contest. Bloomberg is pledging to spend $50 million to build a cross-country gun control activist organization. Bloomberg says he plans to use the same tactics he believes the NRA uses. “They say, ‘We don’t care. [...]

Russia Condemns Kiev’s Military Action In East Ukraine As ‘Anti-Constitutional’

By: Wednesday April 16, 2014 6:09 am

The crisis in Ukraine is taking some interesting twists and turns. After the interim government in Kiev launched what it called “anti-terrorist” operations in East Ukraine to force out pro-Russian demonstrators, Russian President Vladimir Putin has labeled the moves “anti-constitutional acts” in a phone call with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. So while both sides [...]

The Roundup for April 15th, 2014

By: Tuesday April 15, 2014 3:01 pm

Hey folks, it’s Tax Day today. Not a favorite day for some (and a great one for the rich who avoid taxes) International Politics Overall – Pew: Research was conducted throughout 40 countries on what is deemed “morally acceptable.” The issue mostly seen as morally unacceptable was infidelity – extramarital affairs, with 78 percent saying [...]

Study: US Is An Oligarchy Not Democracy

By: Tuesday April 15, 2014 10:57 am

From the department of No Duh, a study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities supports the thesis that the United States of America is not a republic in substance but rather an oligarchy where the rich rule and the majority are irrelevant to policy decisions. Studying policy changes between 1981 and 2002 and comparing the different [...]

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